By Shane Beilue
Southern Staff Writer
May 27, 2010
Lake Falcon, located on the Texas/Mexican border near the south Texas town of Zapata, is arguably the best bass lake in the country. Unfortunately, it also poses the greatest threat of being held up at gun point while spending a day on the water. If you live outside the state of Texas, it’s possible you haven’t heard that Mexican drug gangs have recently robbed multiple U.S. citizens while fishing or boating on the Mexican side of the lake. In fact, the Texas Department of Public Safety issued a press release citing three armed robberies since April 30th of this year, as well as other attempted robberies, as reason to avoid venturing into Mexican waters while on Lake Falcon.
Lake Falcon was impounded in 1954 and has been producing excellent bass fishing ever since. Its relative isolation in deep southern Texas kept much of the heavy boating traffic off the lake but the past five years have seen a major increase in boaters. Since a dramatic rise in water levels after a severe drought in the 1990’s, the bass fishing absolutely exploded and the old reservoir became a national destination again, heightened by the much-publicized BASS and FLW events that weighed tremendous sacks of bass. Texas officials are now concerned for the safety of future tournament competitors in the multiple events planned for Falcon in the coming weeks and months.
U.S. anglers equipped with a Mexican fishing license regularly fish the Mexican side of the lake, as these waters hold some tremendous bass fishing opportunities. The old flooded town of Guerrero offers submerged buildings, foundations and roadbeds that hold incredible numbers of bass; however, this is precisely where some of these incidents of robbery have occurred. These aren’t petty criminals: the reports indicate boats of 2-5 men brandishing AK-47s and/or AR-15s are quickly approaching the victim’s boats, then boarding in search of whatever they desire. Thus far, only the loss of a few hundred dollars should be considered fortunate in light of the random killings and kidnappings occurring throughout various border towns in Texas and Arizona. I hate to say it, but this could get worse before it gets any better.
Bass fishermen make an easy target, as we are typically an unassuming bunch and generally pre-occupied with the task at hand: fishing. Therefore, an approaching boat likely doesn’t pose an immediate threat to the uneducated angler. A shiny bass boat with U.S. registration numbers gives the impression of money and the isolation we all seek provides the perfect target to an opportunistic group of criminals. What makes a bad situation worse is that U.S. law enforcement can’t do a single thing to stop it if the incident occurs in Mexican waters, and Mexico has no law enforcement present or willing to deter the crimes. Even if the crime occurs in Texas waters, and one report indicates an attempted robbery near Marker 7 in Texas, U.S. law enforcement must stop at the international boundary. In other words, you have no defense against multiple armed gunmen, nor do you have any legal recourse if assaulted.
Thus far, I know of no similar incidents occurring on Lake Amistad, the other famous border reservoir located near Del Rio, TX. As with Falcon, the Mexican side of Amistad offers excellent bass fishing, evidenced by the frequent tournament-winning sacks caught from the Mexican side of the lake. However, common sense tells us that it’s best to stay within the U.S. boundaries when fishing Amistad, as news of the easy prey on Falcon likely travels quickly within the ranks of the drug cartels.
The Texas Department of Public Safety provides a good tip if venturing onto Lake Falcon and really makes good sense anytime we launch a boat: file a float plan with a family member or friend, detailing what boat ramp you are launching from, time of departure and direction of intended travel, boater’s cell phone number, names of all passengers aboard the boat, as well as boat and vehicle license numbers. Finally: Stay in U.S. waters – it’s just not worth the risk.
You can read the press release from the Texas Department of Public Safety here: http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/director_staff/public_information/pr051810.pdf